The student news site of Paul D. Schreiber Senior High School

The Schreiber Times

The student news site of Paul D. Schreiber Senior High School

The Schreiber Times

The student news site of Paul D. Schreiber Senior High School

The Schreiber Times


Each of Schreiber’s music ensembles performed at the NYSSMA Majors Festival in late May. The two chorus groups attended on May 20, the three band groups on May 21, and the three orchestra groups on May 22.  Schreiber’s ensembles received a total  of four gold medals and four silver medals, with the freshman orchestra receiving the highest honor of Gold with Distinction.

NYSSMA (New York State School Music Association) is the New York affiliate for the National Association for Music Education, which is an organization that serves to preserve music within public school curricula across the United States.  At NYSSMA Major Organization Festivals, students do not compete with ensembles from other schools, but are assessed based on factors such as pitch, tone, sight-reading, technique, and other categories.  

Students perform at six different levels with Level 1 being the easiest and Level 6 being the hardest, indicating collegiate or professional level.  Schreiber’s ensembles performed at levels 3 through 6. 

The two ensembles who performed at Level 6, the Symphony Orchestra and the Wind Ensemble, both received gold awards.

“Throughout this year, the wind ensemble has worked extremely hard and has been dedicated to the outcome they received at NYSSMA Majors.  Over this year, we were invited to Disney World, where we performed and had the honor of representing the Schreiber High School music department.  We also had our Memorial Day Parade and other smaller festivals where we performed. Our hard work helped us earn gold for yet another year,” said sophomore Samantha Benson-Tyler.

The Wind Ensemble, along with all of the ensembles at Schreiber, put in a great deal of work in order to be this successful.  They had to work on many different skills and components of music leading up to NYSSMA Majors to make sure that they were fully prepared.  This included not only playing their respective pieces accurately, but with musicality as well, which is another factor that is taken into consideration. 

“The music teachers select music for the festival from the official NYSSMA Manual. They strive to select pieces that challenge the students, but also provide a variety of musical styles, tempi, and texture. Students rehearse the music over several months, trying to play it as perfectly as possible.  We are very proud of the hard work all our students and their teachers put into their preparation for this festival,” said Director of Creative Arts Mr. Kevin Scully.

The Freshman Orchestra, another one of these talented ensembles, received Gold with Distinction at the festival.  This is the highest honor that an ensemble can receive, and it is only given to performances that are regarded as exceptional.  To be given this rating, the ensemble needs to play altogether as a group, and not just as many different individuals playing their own parts.

“It took a lot of focus and effort for the students to become so successful at NYSSMA Majors.  We focused a lot on all of the nuances in the music to not only play with accurate notes and rhythms, but to add a mature musical sound.  The Freshman Orchestra grew so much over this year and became such a strong unified group.  I couldn’t be more proud,” said orchestra teacher Ms. Carly Clancy.

The Mixed Choir received the Gold medal, which is awarded based on outstanding technical and artistic skill. 

“Although I had some doubts leading up to NYSSMA, the Mixed Choir ended up pulling through.  I’m incredibly proud of our performance, and I feel so lucky to have won the Gold medal,” said junior Myla Tannenbaum.

The conductors of these ensembles, Mr. Aaron Prindle of the Freshman Band, Mr. Shane Helfner of the Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Bands, Ms. Amanda Johnson of the Freshman and Mixed Choirs, Ms. Clancy of the Freshman Orchestra, and Mr. Anthony Pinelli of the String and Symphony Orchestras, also played a very important role in the success of their respective ensembles at the festival.  They helped bring the groups together, and made sure that their players were keeping all of the different aspects of the music in mind, such as the dynamics and articulation.

The Symphony Orchestra, who were given a Gold with Distinction for the first time at last year’s festival, received a well-deserved Gold at this year’s event.

“At NYSSMA Majors, we played three difficult and lengthy pieces, all Level 6 pieces of music, one of them being “Serenade” by Tchaikovksy.  Leading up to the festival, our ensemble sometimes struggled to stay together.  In the end though, all of the hard work, effort and determination from each player, with the help of our conductor, Mr. Pinelli, helped us to get gold,” said sophomore Karis Jo.

The music ensembles at Schreiber demonstrated their impressive talent, perseverance, and hard work that they have put on display throughout the year, and in turn, received high honors as a result of their amazing performances, representing the value of music education at Schreiber High School.